What do you get if you cross The Matrix with The Truman Show?
I'm sure you've all seen The Matrix by now. The creators of The Matrix say that it is 'anime inspired'. Just from watching the trailer to this classic, you can see where they took the plot from.
The film is sort of set in 1980s Japan, and it really shows. The costumes, music and words(in the recent English Language version by AD Vision) are all like they've been directly lifted from the era. I believe it was made in that time also, but due to certain plot points, this doesn't date the film!
As you probably guessed by my referencing to The Matrix, the world isn't real. It's not really the 1980's. In fact, it's something more like the 2480's. After a nuclear war, the Earth(or "Biosphere Prime")'s ecosystem was destroyed. The survivors we're forced to escape into space, where the conflict continued. Once the planets(or "Biospheres") were all abandoned, people began to live in MegaZones - cities inside of spaceships, where, via hypnotism techniques and Truman Show-esque illusion, they were made to believe they we're back on earth, in the most peaceful time in recent memory... The 1980s. When young Shogo obtains a mysterious advanced looking motorcycle, it leads him to find out more than he's supposed to know... The Garland(a bike which becomes a mech), a weapon from the 2400's, aids Shogo in his escape from the pursuing military. As more and more is discovered about the MegaZone, the war comes closer to home, and due to conflicts between the military and the computer, the war comes to the MegaZone too... I apologise if those points are seen as spoilers, but the plot is outlined basically that way on the synopsis.
Emotions run high in this movie, moreso than The Matrix. You really do believe the war is going on, and Shogo really does become quite scarred by what he's discovering. What starts off as an uber-happy cool 80's flick becomes a tragic tale of war and unreality. These characters are real people, not the cardboard cutouts we saw flipping around in bullet-time in The Matrix. There really is the sense of the suffering people can go through after being caught up in such a conspiracy, and a war. It may just choke you up towards the end... I know it did me.
Animation is pretty impressive for it's day, and the picture quality on the ADVision DVD is unbelievable for it's age. The artwork style is beautiful and reminiscent of traditional anime, very cultural. Be prepared for quite a lot of violence and blood, there's also an erotic sex scene.
The ending can be seen as a 'there can be no ending', similar to the Matrix, or, supposedly can be followed by the sequel, which I haven't yet had the pleasure of watching.
I have to say that this is one of the best animes I've seen, in fact, one of the best movies I've seen, and considered by many to be one of the greatest animes of all time.
I must recommend the ADVision DVD, as their take on the English Language is incredible, and does the movie justice, and can be purchased with an artbox for holding the two sequels when they are released, which will have the same vocal cast.
All in all, MegaZone 23 is an incredible movie, and deserves to be held highly, and should be an essential in any anime fan's collection. Heck, even my mother enjoyed it.